It is difficult for Messi to distribute praise on his teammates, especially when it comes to young promises. “If he says something good about a player then they say he plays because he wants Leo,” say those who know the captain of Barça. In any case, there is a way of deciphering 10. “If you want to know what he thinks, you have to observe what he does in the field,” add the same sources. And, on the grass, Messi compliments Pedri. This season, 10 has played 721 minutes with the canary (the ninth player with whom he has spent the most time on the field), however, it is the fourth that he has sought the most (61 passes), behind Busquets (79 in 821) and De Jong (71 in 1,141) and Jordi Alba (65 in 1,065).
On rare occasions, Messi has betrayed his own protocol of handing out applause. He surrendered to Busquets when Guardiola raised him to the first team. “I like it,” he told the current Manchester City manager. He asked Jon Aspiazu, Ernesto Valverde’s second coach, how he had to do to empower the talented but complacent Dembélé on the pitch. And in the last Copa América, this time publicly, he was encouraged to tell his preferences. “I feel more comfortable with Kun and Lautaro,” explained the Rosario.
No one was surprised that he bet on his close friend Agüero, but instead that he highlighted the Inter Milan striker, who was playing his first major competition with the albiceleste in Brazil. This campaign, the 10th set eyes on Pedri. “Play well this kid“Said the Argentine in a Barcelona training session. Koeman noted, also watching the canary’s level in amazement. “He understands all the exercises very well, he has an understanding of the total game,” the Dutchman told a Barcelona employee.
Pedri met Messi in the parking lot of the Sports City. “Welcome to Barcelona”, received the Barcelona captain. “Seeing it was like opening a Christmas present”, confessed the Las Palmas youth squad in an interview with The Vanguard. “He tries to take all of this as naturally as possible, but the day he met Leo was when he was overcome by the situation,” they explain from Pedri’s surroundings. A Barcelona employee, who knows perfectly the dynamics of the dressing room, finds another explanation for Pedri’s perfect fit in the first team. “He is quiet, he wants to learn and he makes an effort. He has a similar profile to Ansu Fati. An attitude with which these players feel identified, especially Leo who has always been very discreet, “he says.
Barcelona came to Pedri through Rocco Maiorino, then Las Palmas sports director. The Italian, who had worked for Milan for 13 years, needed money to balance the accounts of the Canarian team. And he phoned Ramon Planes, who at this time was working as Eric Abidal’s second in the Barça technical secretary: “There is a player who may interest you.” Planes traveled to Gran Canaria and no longer hesitated. He called Jose Mari Bakero, head of Barça training football, and insisted that he go see a Canarian game. The former Dream Team player went to see the tribute to Rubén Castro, on August 7, 2019 between Betis and Las Palmas, and added to the enthusiasm for Pedri. “There are no players like that in La Masia,” protested a youth soccer coach. Three weeks later, Barça announced the signing in exchange for five million.
The original idea of Barcelona was for Pedri to stay two seasons on loan in Las Palmas, with the option of catching him at the end of the first if the Barça subsidiary achieved promotion to Second A. But if last season Pedri fell in love with Pepe Mel, this summer he did it with Koeman. “Pedri’s level, at his age, coming from Las Palmas and already playing in games against Madrid or Juventus, is fantastic,” says the Barça coach.
The canary already has 19 games, two goals and one assist, no less than 10. A goal pass for his idol Messi to beat Pelé’s record as the highest scorer in history in the same club. He only has one pending account: ask for the shirt. And it seems that he will have to overcome shyness quickly, the contract of the 10th expires in June and as of January 1 he will be free to negotiate his future.
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.